Who doesn’t want to embrace a more active lifestyle? That invigorating feeling that comes along with a little sweat and a higher heart rate, a boost in self-esteem, and an excuse to wear terrible tank tops with inspirational words emblazoned across the chest? Sounds amazing. And yet, going to the gym doesn’t always sound exciting.

For those who crave a little unconventional exercise, there are plenty of activities in and around Tacoma that are fun and yet double as workouts. In most cases, they burn just as many calories and build as much muscle as a good run or days of alternating legs and thighs. Even better, these workouts can make the idea of staying in shape seem more like a treat than a chore. Here are offbeat fitness ideas and where to do them.


Roller derby
Roller derby and speed skating are a few fun ways to get your blood pumping, work up a sweat and build a killer booty.
Photo credit: Jason Garland

A pair of quads or rollerblades, along with the bravery it takes to fall gracelessly in front of strangers, is all a person needs to get rolling; you can find both at rinks across the South Sound. For those interesting in learning how to skate or building on existing skills, there are a handful of classes available as well as rinks to tool around on.

  • Speed skating classes are available at Tacoma’s Rolling253 Skate & Community Center, and plenty of CheapSkate days plus a well-stocked pro shop make Rolling253 a great place to get your skate on.
  • Skate Tiffany’s in Puyallup, a large space that’s been welcoming single skaters and families since 1969, offers beginner and speed skate lessons as well. The lesson cost includes skate rentals, classes and practice time after class. Check out Skate Tiffany’s, too, for their amply stocked skate shop, arcade and eats.
  • Auburn Skate Connection, along with Rolling253 in Tacoma, are the training grounds for Tacoma’s roller derby femme fatales, the Dockyard Derby Dames. Have you always wondered what it takes to block, jam, whip and plow? The regional conglomerate, which consists of three home teams (the Trampires, the Marauding Mollies and the Femme Fianas) and a traveling all-star team (the Wave of Mutilation) initiate New Bruisers once a year. Skaters will learn from veteran skaters until they’ve learned the skills needed to try out for a team.
  • Ice skating counts, too! The Sprinker Recreation Center’s ice arena in Tacoma offers classes for kids and adults that span seven to eight weeks for ice skaters. No matter how you skate through it, this is a workout that burns calories, builds muscle and feels way too fun to be work.

Rock Climbing

Edgeworks Climbing
Challenging mentally as well as physically, rock climbing takes fitness seekers to new heights in more ways than one. Photo courtesy: Edgeworks Climbing

We’re not all cut out for Vertical Limit-style adventures, but if you’ve never tried it, you don’t know quite how hard climbing can be. This sport is a challenge because, in addition to the strength it requires to hold a position and hoist yourself up, the act requires whole-body conditioning to be able to support your body weight. The mental struggle of trying to anticipate a route up or down adds to the exhilaration of being perched high above the mat of an indoor climbing gym, of which is where many where new Tacoma-area climbers can start.

  • Edgeworks Climbing hosts social events for climbers, summer camps for kids, daylong and overnight excursions and plenty of classes for indoor and outdoor climbers alike. Course topics range from Climbing 101 for complete beginners to more in-depth classes on knot tying, rappelling, leading and a focus on movement and technique. Outdoor clinics require a degree of climbing knowledge, which budding climbers can pick up at an indoor guided class.
  • Climb Tacoma, owned and operated by local climbers, is an open facility that makes use of all four walls as well as plenty of free-standing structures to ensure there’s plenty of space and terrain for climbers of all ability levels. Climb Tacoma offers classes in bouldering, private instruction and even a ladies night that includes rentals – how can you beat that? Kids camps over the summer offer an affordable way for kiddos to get in on the action, too.

Outdoor (and Some Quirky Indoor) Yoga

Odd Otter Yoga
Quench your post-yoga thirst on Saturdays with a frothy stein of craft beer at this quirky Tacoma brewery. Photo courtesy: Odd Otter Brewing

For what can look like stretching and simple poses, yoga really does burn calories. For a fun twist on your average class, look into a slightly more scenic venue.

  • Check out classes at Odd Otter Brewing Co. in Tacoma. In addition to an ever-changing selection of quirky suds, the brewery also offers indoor yoga classes every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. These routines are sweetened by the promise of a refreshing brew and social hour with new friends after you’ve runga’d your final chada.
  • Uplift Yoga of Tacoma offers hammock and paddleboard yoga classes in addition to standard classes and routines. Owned by yogi Anna Noel, this studio offers a wide variety of classes for the student with a thirst for the unconventional. Unwind in weightless style with the thrill of antigravity aerial yoga to an already relaxing experience.
  • Edgeworks climbing gym also offers a handful of yoga, pilates and other fitness courses taught by certified instructors, several of whom are also accomplished rock climbers. An Edgeworks membership allows free unlimited access to courses, so if you caught the climbing bug, yoga and fitness courses at this center offer a well-rounded regime for an active lifestyle. Weather permitting, instructors tell us it’s not unheard of to move mats outdoors and strike a pose in an open-air studio.

Dance (Aerial & Otherwise)

Dance is one of the most affordable ways to tone up – all you really need to get started is a pair of feet and a beat. It’s also a pretty fun to show off the fruits of your labor once you’ve picked up a few new skills. Classes range from traditional to modern styles, but each requires balance, coordination and helps to tone muscles in your arms, legs and core.

There are plenty of great studios around town that can teach you steps to anything from the Charleston to the Nae Nae, but for something a little offbeat check out a course or two of the airborne variety.

  • The elegant and slightly exotic art of aerial dance is available to learn at Apex Aerial Arts in Tacoma. Take a class in aerial, acrobatic and silk dance or yoga. There are also trapeze courses available, and drop-in sessions are welcome as well.
  • Aerial classes are available with a handful of different focuses, but yoga is a common thread at Uplift. Acro and aerial yoga will take students off the beaten path, but there’s also Buti, Thai yoga and sound healing courses on site to mix things up.
  • From artistic to a little risqué, Athena Vertical Dance studio offers classes for just about any taste. Aerial fitness, a dance boot camp, hula hoop fitness, acroyoga, pole and the fine art of twerking are some of the programs dancing feet can expect to find here.
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